Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

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Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:52 am

Mr. Pipes was sitting in one of his favorite spots, a small park bench underneath one of America City's greatest and longest bridges. The view of the pond it crossed and the city on the other side was one of his favorites. He figured that this would be a fine place to meet whoever this mystery person was. In truth, it had his nerves on edge though he did his best to completely hide it. Right now, this person might be the only one that even suspected that he was a powered individual. He had to figure out if someone actually knew, if they did...it would have to be contained one way or the other.

The letter had been rather vague about their meeting, but Mr. Pipes was an expert on reading between the lines. She kept mentioning "power play" over again in terms of his "business" and how "no ordinary man" could have achieved it. While it may have just been ramblings, it was fitting too closely with what had happened only a week before.

Pipes was tired of being down in the dirt, killing people and disposing them like he was some garbage man. He was sick of it. The gentleman he worked for was currently working with a rival street gang to negotiate a deal of services. It would have benefited both parties and gotted Pipes' boss quite the power seat, the seat that Pipes wanted. Despite the deal being good for everyone, people were nervous and jumpy. In this line of work, you never knew who to trust.

As the deal started progressing, Pipes moved to leave the room in order to guard the room everyone was in. As he left though, he used his power to make everyone in the room more agitated and aggressive as terms of payment came up. That was all it took for people to grab guns and start firing. All it took was one kid with an itchier trigger finger to get the bullets flying. By the time Pipes came back in to the room almost everyone was dead. Pipes finished off a few survivors before taking some of the spare cash that had been brought to secure the deal.

With a bit of manipulation and lining some pockets, he had the second in command of the rival gang take the fall for the hit. Pipes orchestrated that man's death from within prison, and through those actions he was promoted to lead a part of the Syndicate. It was still a small and new branch, but there was a lot of room for aggressive expansion...then the letter came.

Pipes sat at the bench, fingers tapping the edge of his arm rest as he waited for the person to arrive. He wore his black suit and white dress shirt, no tie. Two men stood at the edge, far enough away that they couldn't hear what was going on but they could see everything. It was the only path to this place, so they'd be able to provide security to anyone that showed up.

Now all he had to do was wait.

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:55 pm

The black Mercedes rolling down the street slowed before pulling over and off the road within sight of Mister Pipes and his bodyguard muscle, a single occupant, undeniably female, emerging from the rear door closest to the bridge.

She was cloaked head to toe in a full length trenchcoat, hands in her pocket. With a wide-brimmed hat pulled low to cover most of her face all that could be seen was her mouth pulled up into a smug grin. Her trenchcoat was left open at the neck, not only exposing a large portion of her ample cleavage, but also her one visible identifying mark, a strange symbol just above where a man's eyes would be immediately drawn. Her lengthy blue hair flowed out behind her in the gentle breeze as she strolled toward her destination.

"Good day, gentlemen," the woman spoke calmly as she approached the two men guarding the entrance. "Would you be so kind as to let a lady pass? I've a rather important meeting to attend in this very spot."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:47 am

The two men looked to each other. Blue hair, not the kind of thing they had expected based on what the boss had said. Still, who else would show up like this. "Can't let you pass without checking you first" one of the man said before pulling out a security wand and running it across her. Once they were certain that there were no weapons on her they allowed her to pass, just turning and standing guard. They kept their eyes on her should she do anything suspicious.

Pipes just kept staring forward as he saw the woman coming towards him. He had seen the movement, but seemed to show no visible interest. He of course was immensely curious but needed to play cool here. HE had no idea what this girl wanted or who she was. He had sat on the far side of the bench, allowing plenty of room for the woman to sit should she choose to.

"For the record I go by Pipes. I agreed to your meeting since you seemed so interested but I'm not a particular fan of my name. Always hated it" he admitted before finally turning to look at the woman. "And you never gave me your name, seems like I'm at a disadvantage. What should I call you for our little chat?"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:05 pm

"Ah, yes. I understand. Please, check away. I assure you that you'll find nothing as uncouth as a weapon on my person," she replied to their request to give her a once over. She complied easily, holding her arms out and standing straight as they ran the wand over her person to check for anything metallic. It would come back with no results just as she'd said.

"Thank you," she spoke as they let her pass, striding toward the bench where the man she was set to meet was already seated. She listened to what he had to say while standing in front of the rough wooden seat.

"Don't mind if I do..." she spoke mostly to herself. He hadn't actually offered her the seat formally, but it appeared that he anticipated her desire to sit by taking the bench on the farther side. With that, she took her seat, though she didn't swing her legs over to face forward. Instead, she merely turned at the waist and neck to face him as she leaned into the table.

"Very well, Mr. Pipes," the woman spoke with a slight tinge of annoyance coloring her tone. "If we're going to rely on created monickers to name ourselves, then you may call me Astral Black ...or any form of the name you feel flows off your tongue the easiest." She tugged the brim of her hat down a bit lower. Their eyes would never meet.

"Now, with the formalities set aside, I believe you must have many questions for me. ...Or perhaps only one. I'll let you get your worry off your chest before I begin with the reason I wrote my letter if it pleases you. Or I could get right down to business?"
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:29 pm

"I can't deny how interesting your letter was, you spoke of many things that you seem to assume of me...none of which I admit to by the way" Pipes said as he looked towards Astral Black. He couldn't really refuse her, while her name seemed a bit more majestic than his the least he could do was comply to her only request thus far. Besides, there was no sense in making this seem aggressive. He didn't want Astral to think that she was right.

Pipes gave a small smile as she questioned how he'd like to proceed. "It was you who wished for this meeting, so I see no reason to do anything but what you'd wish. I believe that perhaps you have questions or a proposition for me. My time is rather valuable...but you've managed to catch my curiosity" Pipes added before pulling out a small mint from a case in his pocket and popping it in to his mouth.

"So please by all means go ahead, I am anxious to hear why I've made you so interested as to reach out to contact me"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:10 pm

"Very well, business it is then," Astral gave a subtle nod as the topic was decided. It was satisfactory. "I've arranged this meeting because you're a man of singular talent; a talent that no average man or woman will ever know. You can refuse to confirm this fact, but I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that it is fact. The one serious problem with this fact is that you're a wild card in the mix. I've seen with my own eyes what you're capable of, but I don't yet know the how or why of it. You haven't exactly been... forthcoming in being public with what you really are, after all."

"However," she waved her hand dismissively, "telling you that I know what's in your closet of skeletons wasn't the reason I came here as that would make for an incredibly pointless meeting unless I meant to silence you on the spot... which I don't. Your talents could be put to much greater use than slowly climbing up the criminal ladder to the title of kingpin someday in the distant future. What I propose to you is returning with me to my headquarters where we can study and hone your unique talent to a fine razor's edge and then use it to remove the snake's head immediately, so to speak. Does any of this sound at all appealing to you?"
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:24 pm

Pipes glanced over to Astral as she spoke, giving her his attention and seeming respect. Pipes was a lot of things, but rude wasn't one of them. He always at least had the courtesy to look someone in the eyes before putting a bullet between them. Thankfully, she was speaking in a way that greatly kept Pipes' attention. She knew things that others shouldn't have known. Had he been careless, or was this woman more capable than he let on?

"I'm known to take many partners when it suits me" Pipes said as he turned his gaze back out to the river. "And I must admit that moving forward in whatever my personal endeavors are sounds promising, but you'll have to forgive me for not believing you at your word" Pipes said before turning to Astral. "If you want us to work together, I don't do well playing in the dark. Who are you...and what is it you want from me exactly? I have a feeling that none of this comes from the grace of your heart. No offense"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:55 pm

"As you wish, all will be revealed," Astral acquiesced with a low, almost dreamy, sigh. "Astral Black is a code name. So far as anyone is concerned I have ceased to exist as who I was before. I work for the U.S. government leading a secret initiative that came into being not long after the first powered individual was discovered. We seek out those with talents beyond those of the average human being and we take them under our wing and nurture them into a power to be used for the good of the world. You've only recently become a blip on my radar, to be honest. Your shady dealings barely registered as a mosquito until you and you alone suddenly rose in rank faster than any man before you ever has after surviving that massacre. We wouldn't even be here otherwise..."

"That's beside the point, in any case... What I'm hoping to accomplish by bringing you to my side of the fence is to further boost your rank at a speed you could never hope to accomplish without backing from me and mine. Within months rather than years we can have you at the heart and then the head of the Syndicate and even further still and all we ask from you in return is that your loyalties lie with us. Crime is something that can never be ultimately phased out, but it can be controlled and directed in a way that everyone benefits. In this way we both get exactly what we want. You have the power and authority you crave and we come to understand what makes you tick, have one less unknown powered individual on the streets going all willy nilly and have a mob boss in our pocket. A promising partnership, no?"
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:31 pm

Pipes listened, truly listened. He hadn't been sure what to make of this meeting when he first read the letter, but he was growing more surprised with each passing word. The woman was speaking to his core, to the understanding of what made the world tick. This wasn't some bureaucrat that wanted a big name on her desk, this was someone who knew just how ugly the world could be. "A friend of mine once told me that peace was nothing but an illusion, he told me that the world was made of glass and was going to shatter much sooner than anyone expected...I never realized how right he was until people showed up with powers"

Pipes turned to look as Astral. "If I was to accept, I'd have some conditions that we'd need to discuss. Your deal sounds extremely fair, but you understand that precautions must be taken. First off, I'd only want to work with or through you. No one else" Pipes began. "Also, I never want to go by my real name or by Pipes in your books. I'd rather stay a mystery as long as I can. You understand the headache that would come if one of my competitors for any reason heard my name in your line of work"

"That being said, call me...Warmonger"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:55 am

"I can understand that. It would be just as bad for us if your name were to drop at the wrong moment. I can promise that I'll be the only one you'll be working for outside of your false loyalties to whatever organization you're allying with at any given time, but I can't promise that you'll never be partnered with someone or a group if doing so can benefit our cause. Whatever is done would only be a temporary measure, however and only if there were no other choice. That's the best I can do. I suggest you take the deal."

She rose from her seat, signalling the end of her bargaining phase, she remained with her back to him, only turning her head slightly as she continued to speak.

"Now that you're a confirmed criminal with abilities you're a very large mark on our radar. We can't just let you run amuck as you have before if you refuse to work with us or become a turncoat. I'm sure you know what I mean. So long as you're a government asset you'll be immune to every law, but if you're not..."

She gave an apathetic shrug and grin to reflect her mood on the matter.

"Now then, are you aware of the nature of your abilities? I'm very fascinated. Would you allow yourself to be briefly studied?"
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:01 am

"Suppose I can play nice, I had to kiss a lot of asses before I slipped knives in to people's backs before" Pipes said with a small smile as he remembered some of the people that he used to work under. They used to make fun of him, but that hadn't lasted very long. You couldn't laugh when your were dead from having your cheeks ripped apart now could you?

"Immunity and power are all I've ever wanted" Pipes said with a smile. "As long as you deliver on what you've promised, I see no need to piss off people that help me get what I want" Pipes acknowledged. There was nothing to gain from ticking someone that was this powerful off. While there was much to learn about Astral, he had deduced enough to recognize someone that shouldn't be so easily ignored. There was a mutual gain to be had here, and Pipes wanted to see the course through.

"I haven't used it often, only when it's been crucial to my plans" Pipes admitted as he started to think about his power. "I don't quite know how to describe it, but when I focus I can give an aura around me that makes people get agitated and angry. In my line of work, that's enough to start a small war if used at the right time. It's how I got my boss and that gang to kill each other" Pipes said.

"In terms of your study...you said briefly. How long do you plan on observing it? As you know, I have work to do with my new position. I can't just take a holiday and expect nothing bad to happen while I'm away."

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:11 am

"Very good," Astral responded to his agreement to her terms. "Then we have a partnership. As for the study of your talent, we can begin today if you'd like to get some of it out of the way immediately. We'll only keep you occupied for perhaps a few hours each day... maybe once a week? We're perfectly willing to work around your schedule and the visits will only be for as long as it takes to discover the exact nature of your capabilities. I'm personally leaning toward pheromone projection or psychic suggestion myself. Your first visit could be the only one you need if the answer is staring us directly in the face."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:27 pm

"How considerate of you to work around my schedule, it is hard to be consistent in my line of work...but I'll see what I can do" Pipes remarked before looking to his two guards. He gave them a small nod, an agreed symbol between them that things weren't going to get violent. The men just nodded back before Pipes looked back to Astral.

"So since we want complete honesty with each other I think it's only fair that I gain a bit more information here. First off, what is it that you do exactly?" Pipes questioned. "If you're looking for my kind, I doubt you're just the polite voice of reason. Also, what will I be expected to do in our partnership. You asked for loyalty, but what does that mean? If you need someone dead I'm your guy?" he asked. Pipes just needed to know what to expect from his new allies.

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:28 am

"Au contraire," Astral contradicted. "I'm the only clear voice of reason left in the world. I'm the one put to the task of ensuring that no powered individual becomes a threat to the weaker and more easily subverted society at large. That is my one and only task and you, one of the first steps toward the goal. For the most part you'll be allowed to act as you see fit, though we ask that you stay away from government business. If another powered criminal element shows up who disagrees with our methods, then you will be put into play to extinguish the threat in whatever way you see fit. This is why you'll need to be placed higher on the ladder... so that this is less of a fuss."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:24 pm

"Ah, so I'm your attack dog should any other powered criminal thinks he's hot stuff...guess I can live with that. If I put down any enemies like that, it only serves to strengthen my hold on my own power" Pipes admitted. This partnership was getting better every moment.

Pipes stood up and placed his hands in his pockets. "You said you wanted to run some tests, I'm free the rest of the day as I wasn't sure how long...or how problematic this meeting was going to be" Pipes said with a small shrug. "If you wanted to get started, now's as good of a time as any" he said before looking to his two guards. "And don't worry about them, they've always been loyal to me. They won't talk about this to anyone, so you have no fear of being described to anyone"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:48 am

"Precisely," Astral responded in the affirmative as Pipes pegged his one and only reason for service to the government.

"Very good, but I'll need you to accompany me to our lab for the testing... if that's alright with you. Your... security won't have clearance to accompany us that far, but they can be allowed to follow behind to the outskirts of the facility and await your return from there." She didn't wait for his answer, whether it be positive or negative. She was already on her way back to her car. Whether he followed her or not would be answer enough for her.
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Thu Apr 28, 2016 2:28 am

"That can be arranged" Pipes said as he began to walk with Astral. "Just give me a moment to speak with them. This kind of a change of plan will make them nervous but I assure you that I'll make it work" Pipes said before walking. While Astral continued to her car Pipes spoke to his two guards, instructing them to follow closely and to not do anything stupid. There was no reason to be trigger happy, and Astral was smart enough to know that abducting Pipes wouldn't be a good play, not here or now at least.

Pipes eventually joined Astral in her car, taking a seat when it was prompted to him. "You still haven't told me what your power is. You know mine, but I have no idea what yours is"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Sun May 01, 2016 8:59 pm

Once Pipes reached her car, the one person whom Astral had brought along with her greeted him at the rear passenger door. The white haired young driver motioned silently for him to enter at his leisure.

Once everyone was seated and the doors were closed, Astral removed her hat, allowing him more than a brief glance at her mouth now that he'd decided to join her cause. Driving off, the car was filled with music kept low enough for the pair to speak amongst themselves... though if Pipes was paying enough attention he'd realize that the radio was off and the music was coming from all directions at once rather than from any one place.

She cast her gaze in his direction when he inquired as to the nature of her own abilities, already obvious from her expression that he was about to receive an answer without actually receiving an answer.

"My power is my Chained Heart. You don't want to see me use it as it means you're not long for this world."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Mon May 02, 2016 2:54 am

You didn't survive long in the criminal world without becoming observant. As Pipes seated himself in the car, he looked casually to make sure that nothing in the car was rigged or changed. The music was...strange, but not enough to truly cause any hesitations or alarms on the man's part. Still, he'd keep his guard up. Astral seemed interested but should she betray him he could still create a horrible situation for them. After all, having an insanely aggressive driver could become messy...

"So we're not sharing anymore...fine, I didn't care much to know anyway" Pipes said before looking out the window of the car, watching the direction that they were heading. "How many others are out there...like us, with powers?" Pipes asked curiously. He had heard rumors, but someone like Astral might have a better idea of what the truth really was.

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Tue May 03, 2016 11:41 am

Astral held up a finger as he asked his question, implying that she needed a minute before she would be answering. From a hip pocket of her trenchcoat, she retrieved what appeared to be a small, black flip phone. She flipped it open and held it to her ear without dialing any numbers. After a moment of waiting she began to speak, not bothering to keep her voice down since he knew what this was anyways and would hear her even at a whisper.

"Target acquired. We're on our way. ...Right. No weapons or security personnel within the established perimeter of our route to the lab other than those necessary at the gate. I don't want this to get unnecessarily messy. Snow White should be sufficient on her own if this gets out of hand. ...Very good. ...Yes. There's a car behind. They're friendly, but stop them at the gate. ...Good." And she hung up and tucked the phone back into her pocket once again.

"I apologize in advance for all the precautions, but a platoon of heavily armed soldiers is the opposite of secure in the presence of one such as yourself. I'd rather not have my men turning each other into swiss cheese if for whatever reason you feel the urge to void our verbal contract."

She loosed a quiet sigh before changing the subject of the conversation. "As for your question, only a fraction of a fraction of the population appears to be showing signs of manifesting any sort of abilities, but we can only accurately monitor those within the United States. Also we can't predict just how many are manifesting abilities, but are keeping themselves hidden well enough as to not be discovered through conventional means. Of course, when you think of the population of the country, let alone the entire world, we're likely dealing with at least hundreds of powered individuals awakening to their new potential as we speak. I'm doing my best to bring as many as I can to America City; getting them off the streets with untamed powers to try to teach them to better hone their abilities so they're less of a danger to themselves and the lesser population. ...Convincing them to work for us is an additional bonus."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Thu May 05, 2016 12:59 pm

"I understand, but believe me I have no reason to turn on you. Besides, even without weapons they'd find some way to kill each other. Forcing people to kill each other with their hands is much more messy, and I don't feel like throwing up my risotto I had for lunch" Pipes said with a small smile. The man had always had a dark sense of humor. Back when he was just an enforcer he had often talked to his victims just before shooting or hanging them. Death was just another part of life, one that Pipes had become far too accustomed to.

"Interesting" Pipes said in response to her information about the population. "So a question if I may, let's say I come across another criminal in the underworld with powers. I take it I'm supposed to report them to you so you can offer them the same deal you're offering me?"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Fri May 06, 2016 2:16 am

"...Charming," was all Astral had to say on that matter, raising her brow at him in the facial expression for 'Really?' before casually averting her eyes out the window for a moment to gauge their distance from the facility.

"In a nutshell, yes," she answered his question without taking her gaze from outside the vehicle. They were coming near. "Obviously we won't be striking the exact same deal. We can't give them your position after all, so long as you're still with us. We'd find another use for them."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Fri May 06, 2016 9:10 am

Pipes smiled, already feeling the benefits of this deal. So many thought that criminals and the government couldn't get along, Pipes only referred to those people as idiots. If you were going to survive on the higher levels of organized crime you needed the right friends. Astral seemed like the right kind of friend, the one that was going to allow Pipes the opportunity to grow and claim his power.

"How many others do you have working for you besides me?" Pipes asked curiously. "Not asking who they are or what they do, I'm just curious as to how many you have found and recruited thus far"

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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Problematic on Thu May 12, 2016 12:14 am

"Even that simple number is classified. We have to play any powered individuals under this government's influence close to the vest. Even a mild slip of a number in close company could lead to allowing our foes to be better prepared to face us when the time comes. I doubt you'd like to flaunt about just how many members of your own organization are more loyal to yourself than your boss." She cast him a sly smile at that. Someone with his sort of aspirations aimed to make close, loyal allies quickly. A coup didn't work very well if no one under your employ was loyal. "In any case, though you'll never know the exact number, you're likely to make the acquaintance of at least a few during your time working with us."

She left it at that, closing the subject as she looked back out the window. Fortunately, it wasn't long before they arrived. The building was fairly unassuming if one ignored the fact that there was a security guard stationed beside a boom barrier. There was a momentary halt as they stopped and the driver pulled out a card and handed it off to the guard. A few seconds later and her card was handed back to her and the barrier was lifted, allowing them passage inside.

Once parked, in the sparsely populated lot, Astral replaced her hat and everyone piled out and made their way for the doors.

"Welcome to our HQ. I hope it's not too underwhelming for your tastes, but one can never be too open in a city as populated as this."
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Re: Extra Chapter: Deals with the Devil

Post by Nyrax on Thu May 12, 2016 12:25 am

"Fair point" Pipes said and accepted that as his answer. Astral was of course correct, you didn't plan a coup without having some sort of a plan for how to win. The only way you could do that was to have some help in the right places. What good was killing the boss if his best friends just immediately killing you in retaliation? Pipes knew better than anyone that violence only bred more violence, it was one of the reasons his power was so dangerous. The human mind was such a sensitive thing, and would always be so.

As they made their way towards the building, Pipes had to admit that he was expecting something more. "I've clearly been watching too many Marvel movies, here I was hoping for a secret base located under a lake" he said as he allowed his hands to rest in his pockets. "But yeah, I'm sure this will be nice too"

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